Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fancy Mac & Cheese that's Not So Fancy

Dreary, hazy days scream mac & cheese. But not any ordinary mac & cheese, but one that is a little bit special, a little bit unexpected and a whole lot of cozy. Yes, mac & cheese can be cozy. If you don't agree, we can take this offline. (Side note: I love when you're on a work conference call and someone says that, it's like being called to the Principal's office - I put myself on mute and crack up every time.)
I've tried many a mac & cheese, just for the main fact that I think everyone should know how to make a good bechemel sauce. And it's not easy. If you think it's easy then you're probably much better at it then me. It needs to be creamy, sans lumps and also be flavorful. This is where a lot of mac & cheese experiments fall flat. Not this one I promise.

Have I ever told you I'm not a huge fan of bacon. Yeah it's true. It's something with the smokiness, just not my fav. That's why there's prosciutto. A whole lot of adult fanciness that becomes a little less toned down in mac & cheese.
 And then the cheese. I think it's important to have a mix and to try different combinations. You really can't mess it up so veer a little bit away from the traditional cheddar and it's amazing how mac & cheese becomes a fancy Sunday night meal. And while we're on the topic of cheddar, definitely buy aged, definitely buy one from a farm (can be found at the grocery store) and don't even think of orange.

Real Deal Mac & Cheese (must enjoy with wine, by the fire, in your fleece-lined leggings)
8-12 pieces of prosciutto - I start with 12, then usually eat 4 during the whole production
1lb fancy shaped pasta (trust me, it helps the cheese attach to the pasta)
1 1/2 cups milk (full fat, don't skimp here)
2 garlic cloves, smashed but not taken out of the skins
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup Fontina cheese, grated
2 cups extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
Rosemary sprigs
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

How To Make
-Place prosciutto on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350F, until crisp. Set aside to cool and increase the oven temp to 400F.
-Cook pasta according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and set aside
-Meanwhile, on your lowest setting heat the milk, 1 rosemary sprig and 2 garlic cloves (yes just place them in the liquid with their skins!), 1/2 tsp pepper, 3/4 tsp salt in a small saucepan. 

-You want the liquid to be warm, but not something you can't touch. (Again, this is me asking you to put your finger in hot liquid.) Strain the liquid so you only have the seasoned milk.
-In a medium saucepan melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk over low heat for 2 minutes, don't stop whisking! While whisking, add the hot milk and cook until it becomes thick and smooth and wonderful. This is a roux, it's a beautiful thing!
-Turn off the heat and add the Gruyere, Fontina and Cheddar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the pasta.
-Now crumble the prosciutto and mix this into the pasta cheesy yumminess.

-Pour into a buttered 9x13 inch baking dish.
-Next, take a small nonstick pan (like one you make eggs in), add 1 Tbsp olive oil and heat over low heat. Add the panko bread crumbs and cook, stirring every so often, until they turn light brown. Remove from the heat and add the Asiago. Let them cool a couple of minutes and place on top of the mac & cheese - aka fancy  breadcrumbs.
-Bake at 400F for 30-35 minutes until you have THIS...
And that my friends is Sunday night dinner that trumps all other Sunday night dinners!

1 comment:

  1. That looks delicious! I have been using Martha Stewarts mac and cheese recipe, which also calls for Gruyere. I found that really adds to the "fancy." Enjoying your posts on ESS.